The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy serves as the hub of the Harvard Kennedy School’s research, teaching, and training in the human rights domain. The center embraces a dual mission: to educate students and the next generation of leaders from around the world in human rights policy and practice; and to convene and provide policy-relevant knowledge to international organizations, governments, policymakers, and businesses.

 

News and Announcements

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Legitimate Leadership?

February 21, 2020

Arthur Applbaum explains in his recently published book, Legitimacy: The Right to Rule in a Wanton World, Americans tend to discuss legitimacy in procedural terms: if a government comes to power through certain correct steps, such as free elections, it must be legitimate.

... Read more about Legitimate Leadership?

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Study Group: Data Trusts | An Ethical Pathway to Protect the Human Rights of People Living with Criminal Convictions Impacted by Background Screening?

February 14, 2020

The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy invites you to join a study group on the urgent need to establish a human rights framework in criminal justice reform, which addresses mass incarceration in America.... Read more about Study Group: Data Trusts | An Ethical Pathway to Protect the Human Rights of People Living with Criminal Convictions Impacted by Background Screening?

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Latest Publications

Experiences of Trafficked and Sexually Exploited Boys Transitioning From Shelter Programmes Into the Community: Findings From a Longitudinal Study

Experiences of Trafficked and Sexually Exploited Boys Transitioning From Shelter Programmes Into the Community: Findings From a Longitudinal Study

Abstract:

Laura Cordisco Tsai examines the experience of transitioning back to life in the community for boy survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation.

This article explores the perspectives of Cambodian boys who have experienced human trafficking and sexual exploitation on their experiences transitioning out of shelters and re‐entering the community. We used an interpretive phenomenological approach to analyse 81 interviews and narrative summaries of interviews drawn from Chab Dai's 10‐year longitudinal study with survivors in Cambodia (n = 22). Themes included: minimal involvement in planning for re/integration; conflicted feelings about life in the community; challenges completing school and securing employment; importance of community‐based services; unfulfilled expectations; violence in the community; and a desire to return to the shelter.

 

 

: Laura Cordisco-Tsai et al. | Mar 30 2020
: Laura Cordisco Tsai examines the experience of transitioning back to life in the community for boy survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Last updated on 04/07/2020

Remarks Before the Commission on Unalienable Rights

Citation:

Martha Minow. 3/17/2020. “Remarks Before the Commission on Unalienable Rights.” Carr Center Discussion Paper Series, 2020-003. See full text.
Remarks Before the Commission on Unalienable Rights

Abstract:

In her address to the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights, Martha Minow discusses the meaning and implications of human rights. 

"Please accept my thanks for the invitation to speak with you and for your service on this important effort. Grappling with the meaning and implications of human rights is a task that no one generation can complete; comprehension, validation, and commitment require investment of renewing thought and action even though human rights are described as self-evident and eternal. In fact, the reasons why individual nations and even individual people subscribe to notions of human rights vary enormously—and range from idealism to realpolitik—as do their justifications and rationales, which sound in such competing registers as religion, social contract, nature, utility, and game theory.  As I will explain, respect for the dignity of each person offers a core basis for human rights in both substance and in attitudes of respect and civility even when we disagree. Your admirable effort to trace ideas about human rights to deep histories and understandings of eternal truths should underscore the importance of engagement with other nations and multinational convenings as we all face unprecedented challenges to human dignity."

 

Read full address, here. 

: Martha Minow | Mar 17 2020
: Martha Minow discusses the meaning and implications of human rights. 
Last updated on 03/17/2020

Rights and Responsibilities in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Rights and Responsibilities in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Abstract:

Touching on points from her newly published book, The Hidden Face of Rights: Towards a Politics of Responsibilities, Kathryn Sikkink urges the global community to place responsibility on all actors to uphold human rights during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Building on the work of Iris Marion Young in her posthumous book, Responsibility for Justice, in The Hidden Face of Rights, I argue that all actors socially connected to structural injustice and able to act, need to take action to address the injustice. One problem with the word responsibility is that people often use it in the common legal meaning focused on who is to blame or liable. This is what Iris Young has called backward-looking responsibility or the “liability model.” She focused on political responsibility that is forward-looking. This kind of responsibility asks not “who is to blame,” but “what should we do?” Forward-looking responsibility is necessary to address the Coronavirus pandemic and to think about what we should do in the world after the pandemic. I also draw on Max Weber’s idea of an ethic of responsibility in Politics as a Vocation to stress that it is not enough to act with good intentions. We also need to have done our research about the most effective way to act so that our actions have the impact we seek.


This framework is useful in the context of the Coronavirus crisis because it involves both a range of rights and responsibilities of many actors. Our right to health, but also rights to liberty, freedom of movement, to education, to information, to food and shelter are all at stake. As countries ramp up exclusionary travel and border policies, some of these rights may be imperiled, and governments need to strike a balance between protecting the health and respecting human rights, as the WHO Secretary General recognized in his briefing on March 12. A quarantine is a legitimate state policy in times of health emergencies, but the state must attend to the rights of individuals caught in the quarantine to adequate health care, food, and shelter. 

: Kathryn Sikkink | Mar 16 2020
: Touching on points from her newly published book, The Hidden Face of Rights: Towards a Politics of Responsibilities, Kathryn Sikkink urges the global community to place responsibility on all actors to uphold human rights during the Coronavirus pandemic. 
Last updated on 04/01/2020
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“The Carr Center is building a bridge between ideas on human rights and the practice on the ground. Right now we are at a critical juncture. The pace of technological change and the rise of authoritarian governments are both examples of serious challenges to the flourishing of individual rights. It’s crucial that Harvard and the Kennedy School continue to be a major influence in keeping human rights ideals alive. The Carr Center is a focal point for this important task.”

 

- Mathias Risse